Review: Samsung UE65HU8500 Curved Ultra HD TV

Samsung's top-end UHD telly

Our score: 4/5
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Published: May 19, 2014 2:11 PM
By Pierre-Jean Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
Instead of lining up a new set of OLED TVs for 2014, Samsung seems to be focusing on Ultra HD or 4K models. The South Korean tech giant has three current series of UHD TVs, including the HU8500, which is the top-of-the-range model for 2014. The HU8500 boasts 3840 x 2160 pixels (that's four times Full HD!), a sleek curved design, plus HDMI 2.0 ports and a HEVC (H.265) decoder for playing UHD/4K content at 50/60 Hz. 

On top of that, the HU8500 gets the usual line-up of features seen in all Samsung's high-end TVs, with Edge LED backlighting, Micro Dimming Pro, a motion compensation mode (native screen resolution = 200 Hz, Clear Motion Rate = 1200 Hz), active-shutter 3D with two pairs of glasses supplied and access to Samsung's Smart TV services.
 
Samsung UE55HU8500

4/5
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We tested the 65" model, (165 cm, UE65HU8500), but 55" (140 cm, UE55HU8500) and 78" versions are also available (198 cm, UE78HU8500).

2D Image Quality4/5


Samsung HU8500 UHD TV sub pixels

This year, Samsung looks to have modified the sub-pixels in its PSA UHD displays. But while their shape may have changed, they still give very similar results, as we'll see below.

Samsung HU8500 UHD TV UHD resolution

The HU8500 has four HDMI 2.0 ports that can be used to input UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) sources at 24, 30, 50 or 60 Hz. We also found that native 4K content (4096 x 2160 pixels) at 24 Hz plays with no problem at all. In the latter case, the source can be downscaled to fit to the screen resolution or displayed in 16:9 format with the sides of the image chopped off.

It's no surprise to see that images look razor sharp on the HU8500 when using Ultra HD sources. We found backgrounds particularly impressive, with rich, detail-packed images that take realism to a whole new level. Note, however, that for the time being, genuine UHD content is pretty tricky to come by in the consumer market. You'll therefore have to wait until later this year (at the earliest) to get the very best out of this TV with native UHD sources.

Samsung HU8500 UHD FHD upscaling
Spot the difference. Left: Native UHD image / Right: Full HD image upscaled to UHD resolution.
Red is intensified to bring out detail in the upscaled Full HD image. In UHD, you can almost read the writing on the gymnast's t-shirt. Strands of hair can be made out in UHD image whereas you just see a mass of flat brown colour in the upscaled Full HD image.
In Full HD the gymnast's right eye almost disappears too. His face looks much clearer in native UHD resolution.    
 


With relatively little Ultra HD content out there, you'll have to make do with the TV's upscaling function for the time being. Indeed, Samsung's "Quadmatic Picture Engine" promises a UHD-quality viewing experience with Full HD content such as Blu-ray discs. On paper, that sounds pretty impressive, but as is often the way, it's not quite so impressive in reality. Predictably, the gain in quality isn't that amazing. The upscaling function basically just uses digital effects to intensify and accentuate colours and the edges of objects to give an added impression of sharpness. It's by no means capable of adding more actual detail to a Full HD image.
 
Samsung HU8500 UHD TV gamma
Average gamma measured at 2.4.
Dark parts of the picture tend to block together in dark clumps.

 
Samsung HU8500 UHD TV gamma score


Samsung hasn't done a great job with the gamma in the HU8500, as dark parts of the image soon block up into flat dark clumps that wipe out detail (gamma = 3.1 with a 10% grey). The average gamma works out at 2.4, whereas we'd recommend 2.2 for watching TV in a room with a normal level of ambient light. The colour temperature isn't great either, as the HU8500 it a little too blue (7572 K). This overtone is very slight, but it can still be visible to the naked eye.
 
Samsung HU8500 UHD TV colours
Average Delta E measured at 2.9.
Delta E should be under 3 for colours to be considered "accurate"

 
Samsung HU8500 UHD TV colours score


The good news is that colours are rendered naturally, with an average Delta E of 2.9. Generally speaking, colours can be considered accurate with a Delta E of three or under, so colour fidelity is good in the HU8500. That said, we've seen better from Samsung in the past (like with 2013's mid-range F6XXX models).

 
Samsung HU8500 UHD TV contrast
Contrast measured at 1960:1
The black can look a bit grey when viewing in pitch-darkness

 
Samsung HU8500 UHD TV contrast score


When viewing the screen straight on, contrast is nothing more than average compared with other TVs we've reviewed. With the white set to 200 cd/m² the black drops to 0.10 cd/m², which puts contrast at almost 2000:1. That's more or less on par with other recent PSA screens. It'll be fine for watching movies in rooms with some level of background lighting, but the black may look washed out when watching TV in a pitch-dark room. 

LG Oled 55EA970V angles viewing
Viewing angles for LG's 55EA970V OLED TV. 

Samsung HU8500 UHD TV angles
Viewing angles for the PSA screen used in the Samsung HU8500 are particularly tight.
Darker zones get washed out when viewing the screen from the side.

We half hoped that Samsung's updated screen sub-pixels would be sign of improved viewing angles in the firm's PSA screen panels. Unfortunately, that's not the case. While brightness varies by no more than 10% when viewing LG's 55EA970V OLED TV from a 45° angle, the 65" HU8500 shows variations running at +500% in darker shades and -35% for the white. And while contrast is fine when you're sitting facing the HU8500 directly, it falls apart completely when viewed from the side. After having recently reviewed the excellent LG 55EA970V OLED TV, the switch back to LCD seems all the more brutal here.

On the upside, this TV has a decent motion compensation system for keeping fast-action movies nice and smooth. We recommend setting "Motion Plus" to "Custom" with "Blur Reduction" on 4 and "Judder Reduction" on 6. This keeps movements looking fluid and seamless with no adverse effects on image quality (soap-opera effect, digital artefacts, etc.).

If you don't like using this kind of function, then you can always try switching on the "LED Clear Motion" mode, which uses a backlight scan to help reduce ghosting. The result is impressive too, as ghost images are virtually invisible in spite of the 11 ms ghosting time we measured for this screen. Note, however, that most of the people we tried this function out on noticed a slight shimmer. It's also a shame that "LED Clear Motion" can't be activated alongside the regular motion compensation function. You therefore have to choose between smooth images with a low level of ghosting or a slightly juddery image with no trace of ghosting.

Samsung HU8500 UHD TV inputlag

For FPS games, we recommend switching to "Game" mode  ("System" > "General" > "Game Mode"), which drops the input lag from 163 ms (in "Movie" mode) to 83 ms. This can be further improved by renaming the HDMI source as "PC" ("Sources" > "Tools" > "Edit Name"). That pushes input lag down to 45 ms, which works out as a much more reasonable  2.5 frames of lag.

Clouding3/5

Samsung HU8500 UHD clouding

Although the model we tested didn't have any unwanted light leaking through from the Edge LED backlights to make cloud-like white blotches onscreen, there's no way to guarantee that'll be the case for all models of HU8500. This TV is therefore restricted to a score of 3/5 in this part of the review.

Picture Quality4/5


Samsung HU8500 UHD 3D crosstalk

In 3D mode, picture quality is comparable to other recent Samsung TVs. The image has depth and juts out from the screen as and when it should. Still, some crosstalk is visible in highly contrasted scenes (traces of frames for the left eye can be seen in the frame for the right eye, and vice versa).

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Samsung supplies two pairs of 3D glasses with this TV (model number: SSG-5100SG). Thankfully, these happen to be among the cheapest models on the market, selling for around £20 each, so you won't have to spend a fortune to get the whole family kitted out.  

Design5/5


Samsung HU8500 UHD TV design

The HU8500 may not be the slimmest TV out there, but it stands out from most flat-screen TVs with its curved screen, super-slim bezel (10 mm) and impeccable finish at front and rear. To give this TV a more high-end feel, Samsung has used chrome-effect plastic to surround the screen. This certainly looks good, but it's prone to picking up greasy fingerprints as well as scratches. 

Samsung HU8500 UHD TV stand

The TV's stand is made from brushed metal and has a curved design that's slightly more pronounced that the TV screen itself. 

Unlike the HU8000, the HU8500 has a built-in webcam so you can Skype friends and family with no need for extra equipment. The back of the TV is pretty minimalist, featuring the power port plus a proprietary port for hooking up Samsung's "One Connect" box. It's on this box that you'll find the four HDMI 2.0 ports, SCART socket, YUV component connection (via adapter) and composite connection (via adapter).  

Samsung HU8500 UHD TV smarttv

Smart TV services are accessed via the "Smart Hub" button on the remote control. The platform has a sleek new interface and runs smoothly when browsing the various options. It offers access to games, apps, multimedia and video streaming services.
Samsung HU8500 UHD TV remote

Samsung ships a new remote with this TV. It has all the main physical buttons you'd expect, including arrow keys, channel and volume controls, multimedia keys, a menu button, a search button, an On/Off button and a button for activating voice interaction. There's also a touchpad in the middle of the arrow keys. 

With its curved, rounded design, it's reminiscent of LG's Magic Remote. Plus, like LG's model, it has a built-in gyroscope for motion controls. You can therefore wave it at the telly a bit like a Nintendo Wiimote, which can be handy when browsing through the TV's internal menu.

Samsung H8000 classic remote


Like other TVs in this range, the HU8500 also comes with a classic remote control that's relatively compact and totally straight-forward to use.

Audio4/5

Samsung HU8500 UHD audio

The TV screen's curved design means that there's not much room for the built-in speakers, and the effects of this can definitely be heard. Sound is intelligible and isn't saturated, even at high volume settings (like 80%), but while the speakers do manage to output some low frequencies, there's still virtually no trace of bass here whatsoever. We'd therefore recommend adding a home cinema speaker kit or a sound bar for a more immersive experience when watching movies. Overall, audio quality isn't bad here, but it'd be a shame to make do with anything less than perfection when investing so much cash in a top-end TV.

Power Use4/5


It's no surprise to see that power use is relatively low. The HU8500 runs on less than 1 W on standby and 190 W when running. That works out at 163 W/m² for this 65" telly, which is certainly good, even if some particularly economical models can now push down under 120 W/m². 
 
4/5 Samsung UE65HU8500 DigitalVersus 2014-05-19 15:11:00

Pros

  • Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels)
  • HDMI 2.0 ports
  • HEVC decoder
  • Good colour fidelity in "Movie" mode (average Delta E = 2.9)
  • Effective motion compensation function
  • Two remotes, including one with motion controls and touchpad

Cons

  • Glossy screen (reflections can be problematic)
  • Edge LED backlighting (risk of clouding)
  • Unbalanced gamma (detail lost in darker zones)
  • Narrow viewing angles

Conclusion

The Samsung HU8500 is a pleasantly respectable 2014 flagship TV that stands out from the crowd with its curved design. With Ultra HD resolution and HDMI 2.0 ports for inputting native UHD content, the picture is so rich with detail that it looks strikingly real. It's just a shame that so many annoying flaws remain. Picture settings, for example, could still be better, and the screen viewing angles are way too narrow. Plus, contrast is nothing special, and the onscreen image looks a little washed out when viewed next to an OLED TV. The HU8500 is still a four-star TV, but only by the skin of its teeth!

OUR SCORE 4/5
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